Gerald Gardner’s Myth of the Goddess

The first edition cover of Witchcraft Today, w...

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While I do not consider myself Wiccan and I’m certainly not an Initiate of Gardnerian Wicca or any of it’s close relatives, my own understanding of witchcraft has been strongly influenced by the thoughts and writings of various such Initiates, including the public writers of Gerald Gardner himself.

Gardner presented a piece of writing in his books which he referred to as “The Myth of the Goddess.”[1]  He indicated that it was one of the — if not THE — central myths of the form of witchcraft he taught.  It also happens to be one of my favorite myths.  As it features the god of the witches as Death himself, I thought it appropriate to post it the day before Samhain.

Now, G. (the Witch Goddess) had never loved, but she would solve all the Mysteries, even the Mystery of Death; and so she journeyed to the Nether Lands.

The Guardians of the Portals challenged her, “Strip off thy garments, lay aside thy jewels; for naught may ye bring with ye into this our land.”

So she laid down her garments and her jewels, and was bound , as are all who enter the Realms of Death the Mighty One.

Such was her beauty that Death himself knelt and kissed her feet, saying, “Blessed be thy feet that have brought the in these ways.  Abide with me, let me but place my cold hand on thy heart.”

She replied, “I love thee not.  Why dost thou cause all things that I love and take delight in to fade and die?”

“Lady,” replied Death, “’tis Age and Fate, against which I am helpless.  Age causes all things to wither; but when men die at the end of time I give them rest and peace, and strength so that they may return.  But thou, thou art lovely.  Return not; abide with me.”

But she answered, “I love thee not.”

Then Death said, “An thou received not my hand on thy heart, thou must receive Death’s scourge.”

“It is Fate; better so,” she said, and she knelt; and Death scourged her, and she cried, “I feel the pangs of love.”

And Death said, “Blessed be,” and gave her the Fivefold Kiss, saying, “Thus only may ye attain to joy and knowledge.”

And he taught her all the Mysteries.  And they loved and were one, and he taught her all the Magics.

For there are three great events in the life of man; Love, Death, and Resurrection in a new body; and Magic controls them all.  For to fulfil love you must return again at the same time and place as the loved one, and you must remember and love them again.  But to be reborn you must die, and be ready for a new body; and to die you must be born; and without love you may not be born.  And these be all the Magics.

Notes:
[1]
At least that’s the name he used for it in Witchcraft Today.  In The Meaning of Witchcraft, he renamed it to “The Magical Legend of the Witches.”

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